The state of Arizona will not say whether it’s paying to defend two former UA coaches who are being sued in civil court.
The Star has made several attempts to verify that the Arizona Department of Administration is paying for fired football coach Rich Rodriguez’s defense in a federal lawsuit. The lawsuit, which was filed in January, says that school officials failed to protect women from abuse at the hands of former running back Orlando Bradford.
Arizona law requires the government to pay for the defense of an employee being sued for behavior that occurred while acting within the scope of his or her job. However, the ADOA will not confirm whether it’s paying for Rodriguez’s defense.
For the last three years, however, the ADOA has been paying to defend fired UA assistant track coach Craig Carter in a Pima County Superior Court lawsuit filed by his victim, former UA thrower Baillie Gibson.
The state reserved the right to stop paying his legal fees if convicted in criminal court. Carter was found guilty of two counts of aggravated assault March 30. ADOA spokeswoman Megan Rose has been unable to tell the Star if the state intends to withdraw payment. As of April 2, Rose said she didn’t have an update on the issue.
As of the end of February, taxpayers had spent more than $1 million for Carter’s and the UA’s attorneys in the Pima County lawsuit.
Rose failed to respond to three emails seeking information about Rodriguez’s defense, and did not return a phone message left by the Star on Thursday.
The UA fired Rodriguez on Jan. 2, the same day a $7.5 million sexual harassment claim filed by former assistant Melissa Wilhelmsen was made public. The former coach was added to the civil suit on Feb. 23, with the victim saying Rodriguez “instituted and enforced a set of shadow policies” for the football program that trumped laws designed to protect students from sexual harassment and abuse.
Rodriguez’s three attorneys — Leo Beus, Thomas Zlaket and Timothy Paris — filed a response to the complaint against Rodriguez on March 27, denying all claims. Rodriguez began working with Beus, whose firm specializes in “high stakes litigation,” shortly after he was fired.